FORMER Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler has failed to overturn a High Court ruling that his sacking from the board was lawful.

The Carlisle based millionaire entrepreneur - widely credited with transforming the home-grown logistics firm into a £1 billion business success - went back to the High Court to challenge that earlier ruling. 

His case was based an an allegation that the 2019 High Court judgement against him was obtained through “fraud.”

Mr Tinkler had hoped to recoup £1.3 million in legal fees and have his former employer stump up for his £4.4 million legal bill he faced following the 11-day High Court trial.

The new ruling against him is the latest twist in a bitter and costly boardroom battle which began when he was dramatically dismissed from the firm’s board following a claim from Warwick Brady, who replaced him as chief executive, that he was attempting to “destabilise” the firm, now called Esken Limited.

Mr Tinkler accused Mr Brady and the firm’s ex-chairman Iain Ferguson, who have both since left the firm, of providing false evidence. He further claimed that Stobart withheld key documents and witnesses lied under oath. 

Following a second High Court trial over six days in February, Mr Justice Leech has released his 479-paragraph judgement, comprehensively rejecting Mr Tinkler’s allegations of fraud and dishonesty by Stobart Group witnesses.

Reacting yesterday, Mr Tinkler said he owed it to investors, colleagues and other stakeholders who supported him during his Stobart Group career to demonstrate that he acted in the company’s best interests.

The judge in the 2018 case ruled that Mr Tinkler’s dismissal was lawful and also that the businessman breached his duty to the firm.

Judge Leech’s ruling begins by stating that the businessman deserved "much of the credit" for the success of Stobart Group between 2008 and 2017 when Mr Tinkler was the firm's chief executive and a director.

But in July, 2017, Tinkler stood down from the top job.

In his latest claim, Mr Tinkler alleged that by the end of 2017 Mr Brady had already decided that his predecessor could not remain a director of Stobart Group and began “devising a plan to remove him”.

Judge Leech rejects this.

The ruling goes to reject a long series of claims by Mr Tinkler alleging that Mr Brady and Mr Ferguson knowingly gave false evidence in the 2018 trial. Nor had Mr Brady and another director misled the judge while rejecting a suggestion that they worked together to undermine Mr Tinkler, said the judge.

The ruling concludes: “I therefore, dismiss Mr Tinkler’s claim to set aside the judgment for fraud and his claim for restitution of sums paid by him to Stobart Group Limited... and for the repayment of his costs of the 2018 claim.”

After the ruling, Mr Tinkler declared himself “saddened and disappointed” with the judgment.

Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette: Icon: Stobart lorries have become famous the world over.Icon: Stobart lorries have become famous the world over.

Following disclosure of documents in separate employment tribunal hearings in 2019 and 2020, he said, it was apparent that “a considerable amount of information” was not disclosed to the judge in 2018.

Mr Tinkler added: “It was and remains my firm view that, had the undisclosed information that I became aware of subsequent to the 2018 proceedings been disclosed, the outcome of those proceedings would have been different.

“Following advice from my legal team, I commenced the current proceedings to set aside the judgment against me, handed down by HHJ Russen QC on the 15 February 2019.”

Mr Tinkler added: “I considered that I owed it to those investors, colleagues and all other stakeholders who have supported me throughout my career at Stobart Group Limited to demonstrate to them that at all times I had acted in the best interests of the company.”

He said the 2019 Judgment against him continued to impact on him professionally, restricting as it does his ability to be a director of any public company.

Mr Tinkler added: “I was chief executive officer of Stobart Group Limited from March 1, 2008 to July 2017, helping deliver shareholder returns of 261% and driving the strategy over that period.

“It should not be forgotten that when I voluntarily stepped down in the role of chief executive in July 2017 the share price was almost £3.00. Today it is only around 10p, wiping over £1 billion off shareholder value.”

Anthony Field, from the law firm Rosenblatt, led the legal team which represented Esken at the latest trial. He said: “I am delighted that the directors and former directors of Esken have been vindicated from these scurrilous allegations and held by the Court to have been honest and reliable witnesses."

To read the judgement in full click on this link.

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